University of Texas team changing how we use GPS

AUSTIN -- A tool people use all the time is getting better, and it's all thanks to research at the University of Texas.

People use GPS in a variety of ways including getting around, but the University of Texas is about to make GPS systems much more valuable.

"We have developed a way to get low-cost, very precise locations, centimeter precise locations," said Todd Humphreys, assistant professor in the Department of Aerospace Engineering and Engineering Mechanics at the University of Texas.

It has 100 times better accuracy.

"The kind of location accuracy that you get off of your smart devices right now is around 3 meters maybe as bad as 10 meters depending on the environment," said Humphreys.

That's about 10 feet to 32 feet, which would be reduced to one centimeter.

"It's not just for navigating the streets although it can useful for autonomous vehicles. They like to know where they are to a couple of tens of centimeters. But mostly we are thinking of democratized map making. So you pull out your tablet and you can make a map of your back yard or make a map of a construction site. And you can do this as an amateur," said Humphreys.

Another use is virtual reality. Right now you have to be stationary. Centimeter-accurate positioning would allow you to move. Humphreys would love to show it off with the art history department.

"We'll put together an art show where you and I will be inside an art show environment but it would be rendering something that's only available in Cyprus right now and we would do it on the football field," Humphreys said.

Most exciting for Humphreys is how the research has energized his students, who have created their own start-up company to bring this technology to the world.

"We're trying to do the 'What starts here changes the world' motto, and this is ground zero for that," Humphreys said.

Go here for more information on the UT project.


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